If I sat here for twenty or thirty seconds, I imagine that I could come up with one to two million reasons why people shouldn’t have children. I understand however, that for a lot of people, there isn’t a hell of a lot else going on and so, without foresight to the Popsicle-sucking, hair pulling, little monsters that they have an 76% chance of becoming, they decide to procreate. Unfair? Possibly. But I have never, ever been with a child that I was sorry to have to give back after ten or fifteen minutes. (I take that back. There was a baby that I really enjoyed last summer. But then I found out he was developmentally challenged… not a dream baby.)
However, I fully expect to have loin fruits of my own, so it’s fruitless for me to think too much about it. Then I just get scared and imagine stapling my fallopian tubes with a red Streamline. Without telling the hubs, obviously.
Anyway, what brings me to this point is that there are two ways to find your stance on parenthood: babysitting and cat owning. Exposing yourself to the mortifying reality of other people’s children is enough to make any kind hearted soul decide that babies are for crack whores and foster parents. And owning a cat shows you that you are powerless. No matter what.
When I was sixteen, I lived in a very affluent neighborhood. It was a cash cow for short-term, high profit babysitting gigs. In certain parts of the continental US (uh hem… Texas) it’s popular to hire a babysitter to watch your children even when you’re home. I’m not talking about a nanny, but a young teenage girl who has just enough energy that she can put up with your childrens’ post- school, pre-bedtime bullshit so you can have some Franzia on the porch with the girls.
When I did this for the first time I thought it was a little bit awkward. It defies the law of babysitting that says you make a deal with the kids that they can do whatever the fuck they want while their parents are gone, but that have to be in bed by the time we see the lights in the driveway. And you’ll pay them $1. (To children, there is something awe inspiring about a $1. As though no one ever told them that next to the penny, it’s the most useless piece of currency in the world. It is, quite literally, just change.) Needless to say, after a while I learned that alcoholism and on-site babysitting are a recipe for tons of cash. Keep the kids away from Mommy and she will reward you handsomely.
And then there are the traditional babysitting gigs. Arrive at 6. Wear jeans, Merrill’s, and a pastel Polo button down, and say super cheery shit like “I can’t wait!” “Oh! Can we read before they go to bed?”
On one such occasion, a neighbor was walking down the street when she noticed me getting out of my car. In the Sahara, it would have been considered a predatory move. Said neighbor clearly sized me up, determined my age, pedigree, and credentials, and immediately asked me if I babysat. I returned the favor by assuming that her haggardly, Jewish facade was code for desperate and hoarding money. So I said yes.
As it turns out, said neighbor had not had a babysitter since the birth of her child SEVEN YEARS BEFORE. For seven years, she and her husband carted the child around like a duffle bag. I later learned that the child had never really left his mother’s side. At school he was having all sorts of problems with attachment disorder. Super. Can I please babysit?!?
We agreed to have a trial run. I’d let them go see a PG-13 movie for the first time in 10 years and if the house hadnt burned down, they could then go to dinner. Baby(sitter) steps.
After they had written a light dissertation on food preferences, allergies, likes, dislikes, emergency numbers, time tables, maps, and presented it to me, they started a melodramatic farewell sequence which culminated in said child’s face being smashed between the mohair-clad breasts of his mother while she murmured about his angelic face… as though it was a sight she wouldnt be seeing again in a few hours.
No sooner had they walked out the door when the child begin a meticulous debrief of the operational minutia of his house. There was the candy drawer. I could have one piece, but no more, because he wanted to have enough to last through the next week and if I ate more than that he wouldnt be able to. Then there was the playroom, littered with the kind of toys that future a-sexuals play with. I wasnt to play with ANY of them, especially the talking Darth Vader doll, unless we were playing a game and he instructed me to do so. All righty, kiddo. Got it.
After the tour was over, child took me down stairs to watch TV. I settled on the couch and waited for child to take a seat in the beanbag on the floor. Instead child decided to sit on the couch. And then he scooted over, nestled his face between my (16-year-old-non-existent) breasts. And then he cupped them firmly in each hand.
what. the. fuck.
No child, I told him. We don’t touch girls that that. Rather than being embarrassed about it, he became deviant, almost frantic. He was laughing manically and tearing at my shirt. “BOOBIES!” he yelled out.
The rest of the evening I played hide and go-away-you’ll-never-find-me-im-hiding-in-the-pantry and tried to avoid facing child head on. I decided we weren’t going to bathe that night, because the thought of what having him naked could mean for me was too much to think about. I kept thinking that some skillful editing of a handful of footage from a Nanny cam and I’d be bending over for Bertha for 20 to life.
When child’s parents returned home they were completely unfazed by my accusations. Apparently it was totally normal and healthy for a child of his age to take interest in the female form. Why on earth would they discourage that? I could only imagine that they were lucky that child was a boy, because little girls can’t exactly hide behind the healthy interest line when they’re walking around cupping their mansitters balls and yelling PENIS!!
iCaroline learned that unless you can guarantee your child isnt a Grade A molester, you should put off procreating.
Fast forward ten years and I have no children, but I am a married cat owner. After the loss of Milo (who was, as you know, a shinning example of why everyone should own a cat), we procured Stuart. (AKA Fuckface.) Stuart is, among other things, a total disappointment, and it’s sometimes hard to think of reasons why we shouldnt kill him. Just this week our fire alarm went off (for the building). As tenants were frantically running around, trying to find out if we were all going to burn alive, Corey and I calmly made our way downstairs. When we got to the atrium, our neighbors were huddled together, looking for answers. Two of our neighbors had their cats in carriers, one was even clutching her cat to her chest, soothing it. “Where is Stuart?? We need to go back!!” All the neighbors stared at us…
Stuart was staying in the apartment. He’s resourceful. He’ll be fine.
If you saw Stuart you’d never be able to understand where these intense emotions come from. He is cute as pie, soft like a dead bunny, and when he wants to he will be your BFF. Other times he makes it his mission to destroy your idyllic home environment and completely strip you of your humility.
The other day I was trying to get in the house, get my stuff down, coat off, door open, mail on the table– all before I tinkled on myself. I was doing a little hallway dance as I tried to get my gloves off. Fortunately I made it. I slid into the bathroom, pushed the door and sat down. No sooner was a singing the praises of relief when Stuart pushes the door open. Eh. Who cares right? Let him come in. He is probably just wanting to play on the bathtub, which is his favorite pasttime.
No, what Stuart wanted to do was pop his head up between my legs, fascinated by the action taking place, and paw at my most private parts. Are you fucking kidding me? Sitting there I find myself saying outloud “No, No, Stuart!! Don’t touch mommy’s vadge.” And I was taken back to my 16-year-old self, pulling the drooling face of a seven year old child out from between my less-than-heaving breasts.
The Beaulieus are not looking to have children any time soon.